Carnegie Mellon University
October 23, 2017

Remembering Alumna Aimee Beal Church

By Daniel Hirsch

Aimee Beal ChurchThis summer, the Department of English lost one of its distinguished alum far too early. Aimee Beal Church, who graduated with a BA in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon University in 1994, died of colon cancer at the age of 45.

"At Carnegie Mellon, Aimee was the heart of a talented group of student writers—she exuded a quiet confidence and caring for others here, and throughout her life," said Jim Daniels, Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English, who had Beal Church as a student. "A mature, talented writer, Aimee was always paying attention, curious and engaged with the world around her."

This interest in the greater world played out in Beal Church’s career trajectory following her time at CMU.  After graduation, she volunteered for the Peace Corps in Ghana and taught high school students English.

"I remember the handwritten letters she wrote by candlelight in her hut when she was in the Peace Corp—amazing, detailed letters that brought her experiences there to life,” Daniels said. “When her precious journal was stolen, Aimee shrugged it off and started a new one. That was Aimee."

That desire to keep writing no matter what followed her throughout her life. After returning from her time in the Peace Corps, Beal Church attended the University of Pittsburgh to complete an MFA in poetry.  She published numerous poems in the years that followed.

Writing continued to be the focus of Beal Church’s professional life. She worked as managing editor for Alice James Books, a poetry press associated with the University of Maine.  In 2010, she became communications director for Friends of Acadia, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and protecting Acadia National Park in Maine, near where she lived and grew up.

Beal Church is survived by her husband Jim Church and her daughter Maia. The Mount Desert Islander published a full obituary of Beal Church earlier this year, which can be found in full here.